26 September 2023

Transformation of Former Kitadin Mining Land for Food Security and Community Welfare

The Kitadin post-mining program, implemented in 2021, has successfully transformed ex-mined lands into productive agricultural areas, reinforcing national food security. This program has not only improved the well-being of the residents but has also revitalized the local economy by providing employment opportunities.

During the inaugural harvest at the end of last June, the 3-hectare pilot plot produced 10.5 tons of grain. Kitadin has plans to expand the rice field area to 50 hectares this year, with a target of 74 hectares by 2025. This initiative aims to benefit 148 households in four company-fostered villages in South Tenggarong.

Well-Planned Concept and Preparation

Before achieving such success, Kitadin had strategically prepared itself for the post-mining phase. Their steps included identifying impacts, evaluating several ecological and economic alternatives for utilizing post-mining land, planning the technical aspects of reclamation, and setting success standards.

During this process, Kitadin actively consulted with stakeholders such as local governments and the community using various methods, like questionnaires and Focused Group Discussions (FGD). The aim was to gather feedback, align programs, and achieve mutual understanding. All the consultation information and advice were utilized to refine long-term planning by applicable regulations.

The consultations found that the communities in the fostered villages surrounding the community empowerment activities were concerned that once the Community Empowerment Programs (PPM) ended, they would lose their source of livelihood, leading to a decline in their economic activities. Therefore, during the post-mining phase, Kitadin introduced an empowerment program to increase the community's income, including creating rice fields. The area of the rice fields had indeed changed functions and decreased while Kitadin was in operation.

Kitadin and the stakeholders hope the program can boost rice production in the fostered villages, benefiting 148 households with a dry grain production of 259 tons per harvest, thus supporting the government's self-sufficiency food program.

A Daunting Challenge

Transforming post-mining land into rice fields is a formidable challenge for Kitadin. Post-mining land has diverse topography and hydrology, often leading to undulating terrains, piled overburden rocks, scattered tailings, and coarse or fine textures. 

The soil's chemical properties are often less than ideal, with issues like acidity, nutrient deficiency, toxic minerals, low content of organic matter, and availability of macro and micronutrients. Additionally, soil biology presents problems due to the absence of vegetation and potential microorganisms.

Despite these challenges, the Kitadin team was committed to revitalizing the land's productivity. Within five years, they underwent various stages of landscaping. This started with spreading topsoil, plowing the ground, and adding organic and inorganic fertilizers. The Mucuna Bracteata (MB) plant, known for its nitrogen fixation and ability to enhance soil organic matter, was planted twice.

Kitadin also designed an irrigation system, monitored slope stability, and prepared facilities like water gates, channels, and pumps to optimize water management.

Subsequently, once the soil was ready, rice cultivation commenced under expert supervision. The last activity, a drying area spanning 1 hectare, accompanied by eight 3x4 meter rest huts, was constructed to support farming activities on the land.

Kitadin also provided 80 individuals from the fostered villages with rice cultivation and organic fertilizer production training. The training was conducted with agribusiness consultancy institutions such as Integrated Crops Land Management (ICLM), PT Syngenta Indonesia, and Rumah Kompos Mitra Tani Mandiri.

Abundant Results Exceed Expectations

Initially, the farmers were skeptical about whether the ex-mined land could be cultivated. However, during the initial major harvest, their cultivated land yielded 4.5 tons of grain per hectare.

The farmers rejoiced, as they previously were tenant farmers without their land. Now, they have their own cultivated land, thus gaining an additional income source. In addition, the substantial yield plays a significant role as a food reservoir in East Kalimantan.

"With proper treatment, ex-mined land can be cultivated and productive," said Alfendri Santoso, Community Development Officer of Kitadin in Embalut.

Here, it's seen that Kitadin has carved out a commendable achievement for ITM by transforming post-mining land into fertile and productive agricultural land. This strengthens national food resilience and provides new hope for the locals by offering job opportunities and increasing income. The success of this program is tangible proof of dedication, hard work, and close collaboration between the company, government, and community. ***